If there's one thing we know about casual games companies, it's that they love to conduct surveys, don't they? The latest one commissioned by RealNetworks' RealGames division aims to correlate casual gameplay with improvement of bad habits. Need to lose weight, quit smoking, quit hitting the potato chips? Play a game, it seems.

59 percent of the survey participants said that casual games offer a "positive distraction" from overeating, and 42 percent said it helps distract them from smoking. Smokers apparently prefer "hidden picture" games to other types, by the way. No surprise, either, that the survey results show that taking a little clicky-break to play a casual game helped them relieve stress.

I wonder why console publishers don't underwrite studies like these periodically, to show the positive impact games in general might have on their audience. Too much of a minefield, do you think?

Full study announcement after the jump.

SEATTLE, June 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Billboards, TV ads and other campaigns seemingly bombard consumers throughout the year, calling out bad habits and suggesting various methods by which to quit. With smoking-related diseases claiming an estimated 430,700 American lives each year (American Cancer Society), and an ongoing nationwide fixation on weight-loss and obesity, consumers are beginning to ignore the fads and turning to healthier habits as a method for relaxation, distraction and stress-relief throughout their day.

A recent survey commissioned by RealGames(TM), the Games Division of RealNetworks(R), Inc., suggests that casual games — played online by about 200 million each month according to the Casual Games Association — are positively affecting consumer habits and lifestyle choices. The findings are telling:

Survey highlights:

— Of the 2,784 survey respondents reportedly watching their weight, 59 percent agree playing casual games provides a positive distraction from snacking and/or overeating, resulting in a reduced likeliness to overindulge.

— Of the 1,324 survey respondents who reported being smokers, 42 percent agree playing casual games provides a positive distraction from smoking, resulting in a reduced frequency of tobacco use.

— 28 percent of survey respondents who feel that playing casual games distracts them from eating reported using game play as a means to reduce their food intake.

— 42 percent of those who feel that playing casual games distracts them from smoking reported using game play as a means to reduce their smoking.

— Smokers typically play casual games on weekdays after work, before they go to sleep or on the weekends. This is often the time when they may have more freedom to take a smoke break (vs. while at work).

— Hidden picture games are the most popular among smokers. "Little Shop of Treasures" and "Mysteryville" are favorites in this genre.

— Participants most commonly report feeling "relaxed and relieved of stress" after a typical game break during their day. Casual games are the healthier break!

Survey Methodology

This international research was conducted by Information Solutions Group, http://www.infosolutionsgroup.com for RealNetworks. The results are based on online surveys completed by 4,537 respondents randomly selected between December 28, 2007 and January 11, 2008. With a sample of this size, sampling error is reduced to plus or minus 1.4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. This applies to all realarcade.com users age 18 and over. Smaller subgroups reflect larger margins of sampling error. Other sources of error, such as variations in the order of questions or the wording within the questionnaire, may also contribute to different results.

To try out Real's catalog of fun, family-friendly casual games or to purchase them online, please visit http://www.RealArcade.com or http://www.GameHouse.com.

ABOUT REALNETWORKS

RealNetworks, Inc. is providing ways for consumers to be entertained on any screen (PC, home entertainment system, portable device or mobile phone) anywhere. Its digital entertainment services include RealPlayer(R), the acclaimed Rhapsody(R) music service, one of the largest Casual Games destinations RealArcade(R), and a variety of mobile entertainment services offered to consumers by leading wireless carriers around the world. RealNetworks' corporate information is located at http://www.realnetworks.com/company.

RealNetworks, GameHouse, RealArcade, Rhapsody, RealPlayer and the Real logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of RealNetworks, Inc. or its subsidiaries. All other trademarks, names of actual companies and products mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

Copyright 2008 PR Newswire